Articles » Children
Carol Tupper is an Albertan, an artist, and an author. Born and raised in southern Alberta, she loves the prairies and has also fallen in love with our forests and the Canadian Rockies. Since early childhood, Carol has enjoyed art and English. Both are gifts that she is using for the benefit of many. The town of Three Hills sports a mural done by Carol. She wrote her first book in grade nine for her nephew. Read the rest of this entry »
Surprises in the Pasture
Have you walked in a pasture lately, closely examining some fresh cow dung? A delightful little fungus grows there. It is so interesting you will wish to give it more than a fleeting glance. Read the rest of this entry »
Who Cares About Astronomy Anyway?
Once the heady days of the moon landings had faded into history, many people grew bored with space exploration. Some Christians even concluded that the main objectives were atheistic or evolution-based anyway, so why should we support such endeavours?
It is certainly true that the main objectives for exploration of the solar system are based on evolutionary preconceptions. According to longtime NASA scientist Dr. Robert Jastrow, exploration of the moon initially did not seem very interesting to the NASA planners. In his 1989 book Journey to the Stars, Dr. Jastrow declares that the top people at NASA “were not terribly interested in the moon at that time, in fact, from a scientific point of view they did not know it existed …” (p 12). This was certainly strange when one considers that the mandate for the fledgling organization was to launch the US into space as soon as possible, and to explore what was there. Read the rest of this entry »
Spider Silk? Bring On the Nanny Goats
Spiders look scary and with good reason. They are all predators, you know. Their eight hairy legs and alarming mouth parts would frighten any potential victim. Although the usual victims are insects, even most people are reluctant to get too close to these creatures. Nevertheless, despite their frightening appearance, spiders are actually wonderfully designed organisms. Many species effortlessly produce an amazing product — spider silk. For forty years, scientists working for the American military, have sought to produce something like spider silk. Apparently this material is, by weight, five times stronger than steel. the military would love to use it for bullet proof vests, for parachutes, tents and surgical dressings. Until very recently however, all that the scientists produced was useless blobs. The spider, on the other hand, turns special proteins into as many as seven kinds of silk. The best plan would have been to let the spider do all that for us as well as for herself. Spider farming would have been fine, except that these fierce predators ate each other up. So it was back to the drawing board. Read the rest of this entry »
When I say I’m young, people laugh! Well, I am young, compared to lots of things: the pyramids of Egypt, for example. Whether an object or person is young or old, you see, depends upon what you are comparing. Even thousands of years can be young in the right context. For example, I read recently in Scientific American that the rings of the planet Saturn are “young”. In that case, astronomers were not comparing these rings to the ages of any of us living today, but rather to evolutionary ideas about the solar system. Most astronomers imagine that the solar system is billions of years old. However the ring systems around several planets in our solar system may be only “several thousand years” (Joseph Burns et al. 2002. Scientific American 286 #2 p. 73). That’s a huge difference. But why do we care? What do several zeros (or not) at the end of a number matter anyway? The problem for secular scientists is to explain how young rings came to be around “old” planets. The alternative, of course, is to conclude that both the planets and the rings are young. Read the rest of this entry »
Subtle Traps in the Borneo Jungle
Whatever you may think about cats, there is no denying that they are beautifully designed. No, I do not mean their attractive appearances and charming personalities. I mean their design features which allow them to catch mice. The cat, of course, is an expert in the strategy of the hunt. She lies in wait, preferably in a spot where she is not too conspicuous. Then she stalks her prey, slinking along ever so quietly. Finally she winds up for a mighty spring through the air with a precise landing spot… right where the unsuspecting victim hesitates. Then voila! Here she comes to show the victim to you. Naturally you are very impressed with this cat’s achievement. If her strategy were not perfect, there would be no victim since mice are notoriously cautious. Read the rest of this entry »
When I think about gardens, a happy little ditty comes into my mind.
- You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
Especially in the month of June
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
All on a golden afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »
Home Sweet Home
Several years ago I tried my hand at bird’s nest building. It wasn’t actually my idea to do this. As mother helper of the day, it was my job to assist the kindergarten class in their various projects. One of these was the nest building. We were provided with grass, feathers, wet mud and so one. What we didn’t have was know-how. One person held grass in a rough circle while another tried to daub on wet mud. What a mess we made! One thing we did learn was a profound respect for birds. How do they manage with only beaks, feet and wings? The birds obviously know what they are doing. Who told the birds how, what, where and when to build their nests? This is a very good question. Read the rest of this entry »
Moxie’s Designer Highlights
New Uses for Old Patents
Our uses for good bonding agents are almost endless. We glue craft items, chipped china, broken toys, furniture which has come apart, and so on. The list seems endless. There are industrial uses and medical uses for glue too. During the Vietnam war, for example, the American army developed a medical superglue for treating wounds. This product was less than ideal however because it required dry surfaces in order to set. But, as everyone knows, wounds tend to be wet and yucky. Certainly there would be no dry surfaces inside the body. Now English scientists are getting into the act. Actually they are working with a glue which was invented long ago. They are just learning how to make use of this special product. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch Out Aphids!
Everyone wants to go outdoors in the spring to enjoy the sunshine and the warm breezes. But what is there to do besides sit, or play ball or ride bicycles? Of course there is always garbage to pick up. After that maybe some of the dead leaves and other plant debris can be removed to tidy up the garden a bit. But wait! Under many of those dead leaves we discover adult lady bugs waiting for summer and their favourite food, aphids. There are no aphids to eat just yet as new leaves have not emerged. Let’s allow the lady bugs their peace and quiet a while longer. Soon after the fresh green leaves appear, aphids will be there on some of them and the lady bugs will surely find their way to them. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch Out For Deep Space
It’s a scary place out there. Dangerous rays and strange bodies make deep space a good place to avoid. The Hubble Space Telescope (functioning since late 1993), and other observatory satellites like the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory or CGRO (launched April 5, 1991), and Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer or XTE (launched December 30, 1995) and Beppo-SAX (launched April 20, 1996), have provided us with an information overload when it comes to the wonders of space. If each type of body in space, such as stars and galaxies, functioned in predictable ways, then astronomers might have a pretty good grasp on what is going on out there. Recent observations made with these fancy new observatories however, have revealed a plethora of unexpected and unexplained phenomena. Vast numbers of objects which should act in similar ways, all seem to be doing their own thing. Read the rest of this entry »
That Reminds Me…
Our new minivan is equipped with airbags. They seem a little scary. The car manual recommends that young children not sit in the front passenger seat, that adults like me push the seat as far back as possible, that one not lean forward over the dashboard etc. etc. How tedious! Just what are these things that lurk in the front of our vehicle? Everyone knows they are a safety device. But just the same airbags seem like a monster which is difficult to control. It’s almost like having a tiger by the tail. Read the rest of this entry »
So You Want a New Pet?
Can you name an animal that is dainty as silk but devious besides? Probably not. From their pictures, we might imagine that octopuses are solid, scary and, like the majority of marine creatures, not too intelligent. The scary part of the picture is correct, especially if one is a crab or shrimp or abalone. Nevertheless octopuses are typically as insubstantial as a lady’s negligee and smart, smart, smart. Read the rest of this entry »
Bucky Beaver Lives Here
Despite the fine quality of their fur coats, they look a little dumpy. Their teeth also are a little too prominent to be pleasing – but their whiskers are cute. Certainly they are prominent Canadians. On formal occasions they go by the name Castor canadensis, but to their friends they are simply beavers. The plan of action for any beaver couple is to raise their young and to enjoy long healthy lives. This is not a surprising nor an unusual agenda. Nevertheless of all the wildlife creatures that make their home in most parts of North America, the beaver is fast becoming extremely unpopular. The fact is that beavers are the only animals in the world which can change the landscape to suit their own needs and desires. The trouble is that the beavers’ alterations often do not fit the plans of people living in the same area. Then again in other parts of the country, wildlife officials regard beavers as economical wetlands managers. Read the rest of this entry »
Cleaning up in ponds
Some things in nature are so unexpected that our reaction can only be one of wonder or amazement. Did you know that some plants, innocent in appearance, but vicious in character, lurk in ponds throughout the world? These plants attract, catch and eat aquatic insects, water fleas and young tadpoles, fish fry, tiny worms and very young insect larvae including mosquito wrigglers. Read the rest of this entry »